HVAC System: Replace or Repair?

HVAC System Infographic

Having an HVAC system that’s working properly can make staying inside seem inviting, especially when weather extremes are taken into consideration. However, when problems occur, some debate can arise over whether it’s better to replace or repair a unit. Below are some issues to consider when it comes time to make such a choice.


Repair: Since most units can last up to 15 years and can be costly to replace, one that’s not even 10 years old should still be viable once repairs take place.

Replace: When a unit hits double digits in age, strong consideration should be given to replace it. This is especially true after 12 years.

Repairs Involved

Repair: If all that needs to be done is some minor electrical work or unclogging a drain line and there’s no history of problems, you don’t have to make such a huge investment in a new unit.

Replace: The culprit in any breakdown may turn out to be a key component like the compressor or the condenser coils. The steep cost to repair those items will likely make replacing the unit more inviting, especially if this has happened before.

The 50 Percent Rule

Repair: When a list of repairs needed and the cost is given, a repair should be undertaken if that amount is less than 50 percent of the cost of a whole new unit.

Replace: Any repair that will be above 50 percent of the price for that new unit is simply a bad investment, since it’s pouring money into an aging appliance with a limited lifespan.

Energy Efficiency

Repair: If the HVAC unit is relatively new enough to already have many of the energy-friendly items that help reduce monthly bills, fixing it up makes sense.

Replace: If the unit is still using a refrigerant like Freon and is leaking, that can be costly not only to fix, but also fill up. Especially since Freon is slowly being phased out.

Current Status

Repair: If you plan on living in your home for years to come and the cost isn’t excessive, repair makes the most sense.

Replace: Should a move be coming up soon, it might be a good investment to install a new unit. Adding it may help boost the final sale price of the home.

One final rule of thumb is to use the cost of any repair and multiply it by the age of the HVAC unit. If that number goes above $5,000, then replacement is the better option.

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